Cinnamon Smile

As I continue to eliminate products that include ingredients with names I can’t pronounce, I started thinking about the toothpaste I use to brush my dogs teeth.  I looked at the ingredients, most of which are in all toothpastes regardless of brand or price. As a side note, quite a few of these ingredients are in popular brands of toothpaste sold for humans, but there seem to be more ingredients in dog toothpaste. In summary, the ingredients include rocks, salt, sugar, extracts made from black mold, and—if the doggie toothpaste is “poultry flavored,”—that flavoring is made from the most disgusting leftover parts of all kinds of birds. It could be intestines and poo from chickens, turkeys, or buzzards. I didn’t know that buzzards were poultry, and I’m a little grossed out by this knowledge.

Many of the ingredients don’t do anything to help teeth, and some actively harm the teeth by preventing remineralization and damaging the enamel. One ingredient, determined safe by the EPA, has been linked in new studies to harm the brain. There is a lot of controversy on this topic, but it’s in a lot of products—from foods, to cosmetics to toothpaste.  All in all, what I read makes me rethink what I’m using to brush my own teeth, as well as my dog’s teeth.

The first thing I changed for my pups was to start adding 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon to their food, morning and evening. Cinnamon has natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and might help reduce tooth and gum decay.[1] It might also help with bad breath. My dogs haven’t had a lot of problem with doggie breath, but it’s still a bonus. I started this just after their last visit to the anesthesia-free doggie dentist, so it will be interesting to see what report they get next visit. One caution—I did read that rubbing cinnamon on the gums isn’t a good idea because it can harm the gums. I’m going to start brushing their teeth with baking soda (just a little is needed) mixed with food-grade coconut oil. If you use a brush to apply the baking soda, don’t apply pressure because the baking soda is abrasive. I read the paste can also be flavored with a little chicken, beef, or other flavor bouillon cube. I know my boyos will like that. Baking soda is an age-old ingredient in toothpaste so it looks like we’ll all be going from rocks, sand, and sugar to something a little healthier.

One-week update…We’ve been brushing with coconut oil and baking soda with a few drops of alcohol-free vanilla mixed in, and so far so good. I used to have to call them over for their turns, but now the boyos line up to get their teeth brushed. While I brushing the teeth of one, the other is trying to figure out how to get the lid off the container. They love it!

[1] “10 Amazing Health Benefits of Cinnamon,”, accessed February 2017.

Doggie Breath

Bad breath! Bah humbug! While my boyos don’t usually have nasty doggie breath, when I was treating them for tummy troubles, I found a side benefit to parsley water—fresh breath. Now I know why restaurants put that sprig of parsley on the plate.

Cooking up a batch of breath-freshening parsley water couldn’t be easier.

Recipe for parsley water

Boil a quart of water. When the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat. Drop a bunch of parsley (amount the amount you get at the store) into the water and let it soak for 3 minutes.

Pour a teaspoon of the parsley water on your dog’s food to help with upset tummies and to freshen breath.

A quart of water makes a lot of parsley water so you can freeze ½ cup or 1 cup portions for later use. Or make less and boil it up as needed.

There are lots of causes of bad breath in dogs, so—just as with humans—good dental practices like regular checkups and regular brushing are important. Parsley water won’t clean teeth or substitute for professional care.